Valley Aviation Society Information Page
This page will have all the latest information regarding RAF Valley and the Society
ALL PHOTOS BY JOHN DAVIES EXCEPT BOTHA AIRCRAFT
VALLEY AVIATION SOCIETY TOURS RAF LAKENHEATH
The tour commenced, by closely inspecting a 493rd Fighter Squadron F-15C and F-15D Eagle as they resided in their individual HASs, together with observing various 492nd and 494th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagles heading out for various training missions.
Then it was over to the Memorial Park to view past combat aircraft operated by the Liberty Wing; before meeting and greeting members of the base security force; who demonstrated their vehicles, weapons and finally witnessing a most impressive presentation by the K9 handlers putting one of their dogs through its paces.
Finally, it was over to the air traffic control complex for briefs covering its radar and weather forecasting facilities; before taking the elevator up to the top of the five story tower and taking in the breathtaking panoramic views of the airfield.
Quite a day!
Photos are © of the photographer
CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF VISITS RAF VALLEY
The Air Chief Marshal was at Valley to re-qualify in fast jet sea survival. Sir Stephen is a highly experienced Tornado GR4 pilot, and like all fast jet aircrew is required to maintain currency in a variety of key skills, including emergency procedures and survival. He was taken through the drills by personnel from RAF Valley’s Physical Education Flight, and by contractors Safeskys and Smit.
Safeskys provide training in all aspects of survival for RAF Valley fast jet trainees and instructors, including ejector seat training, sea survival, and aspects of land survival. Local contractors Smit are based in Holyhead and operate the fast launches that the RAF use for sea survival training.
As part of the exercise, Sir Stephen was required to exit a launch at speed to simulate a parachute landing on water, before quickly inflating and getting on board a personal survival liferaft. He was then winched on board a Griffin helicopter of 202(R) Squadron. RAF Valley-based 202(R) Squadron trains RAF and Royal Navy rotary crews in key mountain and maritime skills, including search and rescue.
Air Chief Marshal Hillier said: “RAF Valley has a vital role to play in UK defence, training fast jet pilots for the front line and rotary aircrew in core mountain and maritime skills, not just for the RAF, but for our Royal Navy and Royal Marines colleagues too. I’ve been hugely impressed by the professionalism and commitment of the team here at Valley; a whole force mix of military personnel, contractors and civil servants working hard together to train world class aircrew.”
IMAGES: CPL PETE DEVINE, RAF VALLEY MEDIA & COMMS FLIGHT
Air Officer Commanding No 22 (Training) Group, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner unveiled a plaque to 208(R) Squadron in the foyer of the Station Headquarters during his recent visit to the base.
Alongside the A Vice-Marshal was RAF Valley station commander, Group Captain Brian Braid, and Officer Commanding 208(R) Squadron, Wing Commander Chris Kidd.
A photo of the two 100th anniversary commemorative Hawks of the Squadron was also presented to the station, to ensure that the memory of the Squadron lives on. The Squadron standard is to be laid up at St Clement Danes Church in London, later in the month.
No 208(R) Sqn, conducted its last flight at 1330 on Wednesday 13 April. With all training courses now complete, the RAF’s final Hawk T1 Advanced Flying Training Squadron will pay homage to previous Hawk T1 units and iconic landmarks in and around Wales, the training area that 208(R) Sqn instructors and students alike have grown to love over the last 22 years.
Having recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary, 208(R) Sqn has been scheduled for closure in 2016 and 13 April, the end of Hawk T1 flying at RAF Valley, marks the first stage of the squadron disbandment. Not only will this be the last flight for 208(R) Sqn, it also marks the end of 40 years of Hawk T1 Flying Training, the task now fully being undertaken by IV(R) Sqn with the Hawk T2.
All of these pilots have been trained by 208(R) Squadron, so we look back not only at its links to RAF Valley and the Hawk T1, but over the last 100 years with a great deal of pride.
All the personnel of 208 – military, civilian and contractor – can be justly proud of the part they have played on such a historic squadron.”
An historic milestone was celebrated at RAF Valley recently when 208 (Reserve) squadron reached its 100th birthday. Born in the tumult of the First World War as a Royal Naval Air Service squadron, it has served with distinction since then as both a front line fighting squadron and latterly as a fast jet training unit.
No. 208(R) Squadron Royal Air Force was formed on 26 October 1916 as No. 8 (Naval) Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service. During WW1 the squadron flew Sopwith Pups, Nieuport Scouts and Sopwith Camels and was assigned to artillery spotting duties. When the Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918, the unit was renumbered to No. 208 Squadron RAF. The squadron is now based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales operating BAE Hawk TMk1 aircraft in the advanced flying training and tactical weapons role, training fast jet pilots from the RAF and Royal Navy to front line operational conversion unit input standard. In addition, as part of International defence Training, the Squadron trains non-UK student pilots in preparation for their own conversion to host nation front line aircraft.
The squadron has the distinction of being one of only a few RAF units to spend the majority of its service in the Middle East – most of its time since formation has been “East of Suez”. The distinctive Sphinx badge is testament to this legacy.
Sadly, 208(R) Squadrons’ centenary year will also be its last as the decision has been made to disband the squadron to focus advanced flying and tactical weapons training on the newer Hawk T2. The squadron’s Hawk T1s will be retained for use by other Hawk T1 operators; 100 squadron at RAF Leeming, the Red Arrows at RAF Scampton and 736 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton. RAF Valley will still retain links with the Hawk T1 however, as depth maintenance will still be carried out at Valley, as well as conducting ground school for refresher courses and operating the Hawk T1 simulator.
Officer Commanding 208(R) Squadron, Wing Commander Chris Kidd said; ‘It’s been an honour to command 208(R) Squadron during its centenary year. During my time here I have had the privilege of being part of training the future of the RAF and RN’s front line of fighter pilots. All of the student pilots that have graduated should be rightly proud of their achievements and I hope that they look back fondly on 208(R) Squadron from their Typhoon and Tornado GR4 cockpits. The success of 208(R) Squadron has been the direct result of having a great team – instructors, operations and admin staff, and of course our skilled and hard working engineers. They can be proud that the squadron has performed an outstanding job for the Nation over the past century, and that they have been a part of it”.
Group Captain Brian Braid, Station Commander RAF Valley said: “Most of the fast jet pilots in the RAF and the Royal Navy over the last 22 years have graduated from Valley. All of these pilots have been trained by 208(R) Squadron, so we look back not only at its links to RAF Valley and the Hawk T1, but over the last 100 years with a great deal of pride. All the personnel of 208 – military, civilian and contractor – can be justly proud of the part they have played on such a historic squadron.”
The Valley Aviation Society is a non profit making organization, run by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Through charitable events and generous donations we receive throughout the year we are able to help local charities. Over the last twenty years, the Valley Aviation Society has donated £150,000 to these good causes.
Previous Years Presentations
Command of one of the Royal Air Force’s busiest training bases changed on Friday 4th December 2015, when Group Captain Pete Cracroft handed over to Group Captain Brian Braid as Station Commander of RAF Valley .
No.208(R) Squadron Royal Air Force was formed on 25 October 1916 as No. 8 (Naval) Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service. During WW1 the squadron flew Sopwith Pups, Nieuport Scouts and Sopwith Camels and was assigned to artillery spotting. When the Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918, the unit was renumbered to No. 208 Squadron RAF.
The squadron is now based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales operating BAE Hawk T1’s in the advanced fast jet training role, preparing fast jet pilots from the RAF and Royal Navy for the front line. The squadron also trains international students; an important role in terms of coalition-building and defence diplomacy.
To commemorate the centenary of the start of World War One, the squadron designed a paint scheme for Hawk T1. XX350, which was scheduled for a re-paint after a major service. The aircraft was given her new colours by the Valley-based Babcock spray bay team, and the design splits the aircraft into old and new, with the current black training scheme for the front, and the green WW1 scheme to the rear.
The design was based on the colour scheme used on the Bristol F2B Fighter which is housed at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire. This aircraft - which is still airworthy - saw active service with 208 Squadron in 1922 during the Chanak Crisis in Turkey.
Current 208 Squadron Officer Commanding, Wing Commander Nick Gatenby said: “208 Squadron is looking forward to celebrating its centenary in October 2016. We have a number of events planned during the run up to October 2016, and the centenary jet will play a major part. I’d like to say a big thank you to the Babcock team here at RAF Valley for a flawless job. The centenary Hawk will be a great reminder of our historic past, but also highlight our current role of training fast jet pilots of the future”
This aerial photo of RAF Valley was taken recently by Flt Lt Paul Heasman from the cockpit of a Hawk TMk2 of IV(R) Sqn. Flt Lt Heasman is a QFI with IV(R) Sqn and an accomplished aviation photographer. The image was taken at 3000 feet, from the south east, looking over the main runway, with Holy Island and Holyhead Mountain beyond.
Taken nearly 70 years ago by a keen photographer amongst the crew of a B-17 inbound to Valley to refuel and pick up additional passengers before returning to the United States. Close inspection of the photograph shows many other B-17 & 24's awaiting clearance to 'return across the pond'.
Courtesy of Unknown Photographer USAAF' & R W Thomas Collection
French Air Force Mirages visit RAF Valley
RAF Valley hosted some rare visitors recently, when a pair of Mirage F1 CR aircraft from Mont de Marsan Air Base in South West France visited the Anglesey base. The French aircraft were conducting an Overseas Training Flight, designed to expose French aircrew to UK and RAF air traffic control procedures and airspace.
The visit marked the last scheduled visit of the Mirage F1 CR to the United Kingdom as the type is due to be retired by the Armée de l'Air later this year. The Mirage F1 CR is the reconnaissance variant of the iconic French fighter, and carries an array of cameras, ground-mapping radars and other sensors.
Wing Commander Dan Beard, Officer Commanding IV(R) Sqn at RAF Valley said, ‘The Mirage F1 CR has provided over 30 years of continuous service to our colleagues in the Armée de l'Air and it is appropriate that the last visit of this type to our country was marked by the Mirages being escorted through North Wales airspace by Hawk TMk2 aircraft of IV(R) Sqn.’
Hawk T2 Major Milestone at RAF Valley
The RAF’s most advanced jet trainer, the Hawk TMk2, marked its 10000th sortie at RAF Valley recently. This significant milestone comes on the back of the aircraft reaching its 10000th flying hour, which it achieved back in November 2013.
Officer Commanding IV(R) Sqn, Wing Commander Dan Beard said: “The 10000th sortie is a significant milestone for the operation of the Hawk TMk2 at IV(R) Sqn, RAF Valley. A great deal has been achieved in the last few years, from the development of a world-leading syllabus that utilises the unique sensor simulation capabilities of the aircraft, to the partnership with our external contractors which now sees the Squadron at full operational capability, providing trained fast jet pilots to the Typhoon and Tornado GR4.
Furthermore, these 10000 sorties would not have been possible without the excellent support provided by BAE Systems and Babcock International. IV(R) Sqn can now look forward to the next 10000 sorties and their unique contribution to UK Air Power” Originally a Harrier squadron at RAF Wittering, IV(R) Squadron re-formed at RAF Valley as part of the new United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) and embarked on a unique partnership with Ascent, a civilian company, to produce a revolutionary flying training system designed to train the latest generation of RAF and Royal Navy fighter pilots with the skills they need to progress to the front line.
The Hawk T2 uses a glass cockpit and systems emulating that of the most modern front line aircraft, providing the very best training to students. This is backed up by a fully capable synthetic training suite. The aircraft are maintained by BAE Systems and Babcock International.
Peter Jones, Head of Hawk Support UK at RAF Valley said: "The Hawk TMK2 is a fantastic aircraft and I'm delighted to have seen it reach this significant milestone. The work we do at RAF Valley is vital and plays a major part in ensuring the RAF has a ready force of Hawk TMK2 aircraft. We look forward to celebrating the many milestones to come."
Mr. Arthur Newnes has, by his own efforts, raised nearly £400,00.00 over the years for Hope Hospice and more recently Ty Gobaith. These children's hospices provide essential respite care for terminally ill children and their families in beautifully equipped premises funded almost entirely by the efforts of volunteers like Arthur.
Amongst his many achievements he has run seven marathons in seven days and walked all the way round Anglesey in three and a half days.
This year to celebrate his 80th birthday he aims to walk from LlanffairPG on Anglesey to Ty Gobaith in the Conwy Valley and in the process raise £100 for every year of his life. As he says; 'it is all for the children'.
Arthur is a quiet and unassuming gentleman who is tireless in his quest to help the children. Mr. Newnes said the following in a resent interview
"i have actually banked just over £300.000 since 2005 but have been involved with fund-raising for 10 years. My birthday walk this year starts at Holyhead and goes to Ty Gobaith - as I have now completed the walk from LLanffair PG to Ty Gobaith previously."
The Valley Aviation Society have been long supporters of Mr. Newnes (Ty Gobaith) over the years, by giving monies raised by the society from their annual Enthusiast Day that is held at RAF Valley each year. The total amount that it was handed over to Mr. Newnes is over £32,000 to date.
Valley Aviation Society event & important date calendar